The following article was written by Loran Smith for the Athens Banner-Herald. To view the original article, click here.
NEW YORK – There are Parkview High School aficionados and University of Georgia luminaries all about New York this week as one of the most accomplished offensive linemen in Georgia Bulldog history was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame Tuesday night at the Hilton Midtown Hotel.
The four-star hotel was an appropriate home away from home for the all-star Matt Stinchcomb who has enjoyed high marks as a student-athlete since his grade school days. He has authored an all-star career across the board. It has been a good ride with plenty of time left for further honor.
Few colleges have had brothers, especially linemen, to distinguish themselves as Matt and Jon Stinchcomb. There is mention of Jon in the same breath with Matt since he, too, is as deserving for Hall of Fame induction as his big brother.
Jon accompanied Matt to “the City” for the black-tie awards banquet of the National Football Foundation. It was like old times for the Stinchcomb brothers who grew up playing sports, fishing in family lakes and enjoying accomplished careers as the epitome of the phrase, “student athletes.”
Looking back on their distinguished careers, the Stinchombs blocked their opponents into submission on four levels: youth level leagues, high school, the Southeastern Conference and the mighty National Football League.
Few linemen could fire out and overpower defensive opponents as well as these two young men, creating room for running backs to roam and protecting passers—those who often gain more fame in one touchdown drive than protectors of such headline makers, earn in their careers.
Historically, touchdown glory belongs to runners, passers and catchers who dance in end zones while linemen are singled out for attention mostly when the referee, standing near a yellow flag, intones on the house system, “Holding offense, No. 79.”
While the touchdown heroes cavort and treat end zones like discotheques, blue collar linemen retreat to the bench to bond. Their reward does not reflect individual glory, but they help bring home the bacon as much as the ball carrying end zone dancers.
The Stinchcombs (though this signature honor is for Matt, I am sure he has no objection for any shout-out that includes his brother who is two years younger) were both two time All-American picks, Academic All-America honorees, twice, both played in Super Bowls—they were imbued with other interests.
They were about service above self, they eagerly made their way to class and they never had one too many to mar their integrity. They continue to give of themselves to youth programs and glory in community service. Recently, after compliments about her boys were voiced to their mother, Karen, she smiled politely and said, “I’m just proud that they are good men.” Mom’s sagacious insightfulness should make the applause meter intensify.
Matt and Jon lived near their grandparents and learn to appreciate home cooking. Matt, ever the master of dry wit, when asked about hobbies or other interests beyond athletics, noted that one of his hobbies was downing Krispy Crème doughnuts by the dozens but with the passing of time one of his pastimes was driving over to Auburn to see a pretty coed who would become his wife, Jenny Jackson.
Matt, like Jon, is the enterprising son of school teachers which meant that he learned about discipline and responsibility at home and not just in class. He is a product of an “act right, do right” era when sports were fun and you were responsible and accountable for competition and homework.
That the school teacher influence played a telling role in Matt’s being elected to the Hall of Fame is graphically obvious. The NFF and all those, who band together to pay tribute to the scholar-athlete concept, were keenly aware that Matt was the winner of the Draddy Trophy in 1998. This citation, now carrying forward under the name, the “Campbell Award,” is one of the highest honors a college athlete can attain.
Each year, the NFF honors a dozen players across the county to receive scholar athlete awards. From that group, one is recognized as the winner of the Campbell Trophy.
When his alma mater nominated Matt for the College Football Hall of Fame, it was noted by the Honors Court that while this young man from Lilburn could play the game, he also gave the classroom his ultimate regard. Conclusion: his parents’ influence brought classroom results which got the attention of the Honors Court when this august committee met to choose its current Hall of Fame class.
For the record, in addition to the Campbell Trophy, Matt also won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy (the best blocker in the SEC) and the Jim Parker Award (best offensive lineman in college football) in 1998. In 2009 Matt was elected to the UGA Circle of honor, the ultimate tribute for a former Georgia athlete.
Following his outstanding career at Georgia, Matt was a first round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders with whom he played, 1999-2003, after which he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons (2004-2005). Injuries forced him into early retirement, but he would immediately set about establishing himself in business.
He and longtime friend, David Greene, quarterback of the 2002 SEC champion Bulldogs, operate the Atlanta office of Seacrest Partners, an insurance brokerage firm. On the weekend, you will find Matt working as an analyst for the SEC network. “It takes up a lot of my time, but happens to be great fun and keeps me involved with football. I’m still learning about the game which has really changed since my career ended.”
It is interesting that while the rules don’t allow for back-to-back honorees from the same college, it would be nothing of a stretch to forecast Hall of Fame honors coming the way of Davey Pollack, Champ Bailey and brother, Jon, who wears a Super Bowl ring from the Saints victory over the Indianapolis Colts in 2010. He, too, was honored by the NFF as a scholar-athlete.
The NFF inducts a dozen or more former players each year which represents 0.02 percent of those who have played the college game. All too often, however, Halls of Fame are recognized by those whom they leave out as much as they do for those they admit.
The current leadership of the NFF, Steve Hatchell and Matt Sign, have brought structure to the process. One sticky issue which is controversial, for example, is the rule that to be elected as a coach, a candidate must have won at least 100 games and must have an overall winning percentage of 60 percent.
This rule seems to be one of the most steadfast by the current NFF hierarchy although several coaches got in with a lower percentage over the years. This threshold eliminates the candidacy of the late Bill Dooley, Vince Dooley’s brother and top assistant when he started his program at Georgia.
Bill Dooley enjoyed noteworthy success in Chapel Hill and later at Virginia Tech, but when he signed on to resurrect the moribund Wake Forrest program at the end of his career, it brought his overall winning percentage down considerably.
Matt Stinchcomb is the 18th former Bulldog player or coach to be elected to the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame. The good news for Georgia is there is more good news likely to follow.